This isn’t just a two-game interleague series for the Texas Rangers. It’s a chance for them to get a first look and feel for the future playing surface at Globe Life Field.
The Arizona Diamondbacks installed the Shaw Sports System synthetic turf before the season, and their game Tuesday against the Rangers was the fourth of the 2019 MLB season at Chase Field.
Arizona also played two exhibition games here.
Players and coaches weren’t the only Rangers personnel getting a glance. A team of club executives and owners Ray Davis and Neil Leibman flew in Tuesday morning and met with Diamondbacks officials.
Their first impressions? Aesthetically pleasing. The players?
“It wasn’t bad,” shortstop Elvis Andrus said. “The infield was slow. I thought it was going to be fast. I kind of liked it.”
Andrus, though, said the turf would be a bigger deal for outfielders, and Joey Gallo, who played center field in the Rangers’ 5-4 walk-off loss, said that the Chase Field surface still isn’t a finished product.
The grounds crew is continuing to experiment with upkeep, and Gallo said that it felt a bit soft. The balls, though, were bouncing true.
“I don’t want to put too much into it, but it felt all right,” Gallo said. “It’s not grass, but I guess it’s as close as it can get.”
Diamondbacks president and CEO Derrick Hall said that the reviews from Arizona players, as well as from Boston Red Sox players, was favorable. The hops on the turf have been true, though with perhaps minor tailing, and the surface will continue to get better with more games.
The club is still trying to determine how much watering the Geofil infill needs depending on how long the retractable roof is open. The roof was open in the morning, closed much of the afternoon to cool the ballpark, and reopened just before first pitch at 93 degrees.
“We’ve played a couple series here, and the feedback from the players has been tremendous,” Hall said. “We played our first home series here of the regular season against Boston, and [manager Alex] Cora, [shortstop Xander] Bogaerts, some of the guys told us it plays very nice and consistent, which was important for us to hear.”
Rob Matwick, the Rangers’ executive vice president over business operations, said that he wanted to see how the turf looked, hear from players how it played, and also examine the dirt warning track.
The Rangers haven’t decided if the warning track will be dirt or synthetic turf, but Davis said that he is leaning toward dirt for the safety of the outfielders.
The Rangers started researching with Shaw and the University of Auburn before the Diamondbacks decided to switch from natural grass, which took a beating during the Arizona summers. The exchange off information between the clubs has been free flowing and will continue.
Globe Life Field is on schedule to open next season.
“The Diamondbacks have been very forthcoming,” Matwick said. “They took advantage of research and worked that they’d been doing and they were coming in on top of that. As we’re here today, they said, ‘Hey, we appreciate the exchange of information. The least we can do is reciprocate.”